Francine du Plessix Gray  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Francine du Plessix Gray (September 25, 1930 – January 13, 2019), was an American writer and literary critic. She is the author of At Home With the Marquis de Sade: A Life (1999).



Early life, family background, and education

She was born on September 25, 1930, in Warsaw, Poland, where her father, Vicomte Bertrand Jochaud du Plessix, was a French diplomat – the commercial attaché. She spent her early years in Paris, where a milieu of mixed cultures and a multilingual family (French father and Russian mother) influenced her. Her father, then a sub-lieutenant in the Free French Air Force died in 1940, shot down near Gibraltar.

Her mother, Tatiana Iacovleff du Plessix, (1906–1991) had come to France as a refugee from Bolshevik Russia, and ended an engagement to Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1928, before marrying du Plessix. During her widowhood, she once again became a refugee, escaping occupied France via Lisbon to New York in 1940 or 1941 with Francine and Alexander Liberman (1912–1999). In 1942, she married Liberman, another White Russian émigré, whom she had known in Paris as a child. (During his love affair with Liberman's mother, her uncle, Alexandre Yacovleff, had recruited Tatiana to keep the boy occupied.) He was a noted artist and later a longtime editorial director of Vogue magazine and then of Condé Nast Publications. The Libermans were socially prominent in media, art and fashion circles.

For the first six months in the United States, young Francine lived with her mother's father (whom she had never met) in Rochester, New York, while her mother settled in. She grew up in New York City and was naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1952. She was a scholarship student at Spence School, where she fainted in the library from malnutrition. Her mother learned that she had not been eating the meals the housekeeper prepared for her. She attended Bryn Mawr College for two years, and earned a B.A. in philosophy at Barnard College in 1952.

Personal life

On 23 April 1957, she married the painter Cleve Gray and until his death they lived together in Connecticut. They had two sons.




  • Putnam Creative Writing Award from Barnard College, 1952
  • National Catholic Book Award from Catholic Press Association, 1971, for Divine Disobedience: Profiles in Catholic Radicalism
  • Front Page Award from Newswomen's Club of New York, 1972, for Hawaii: The Sugar-Coated Fortress
  • LL.D.
City University of New York, 1981
Oberlin College, 1985
University of Santa Clara, 1985
St. Mary's College of California
University of Hartford


Further reading

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Francine du Plessix Gray" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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